The Rhode Island Senate Health and Human Services Committee is contemplating legislation that would allow post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to be treated with medical marijuana.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Sen. Stephen Archambault, would add PTSD to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatment. The legislation would also allow patients who are eligible for hospice care to receive an expedited approved medical marijuana use application. [1]

More than 10,000 Rhode Island residents carry medical marijuana cards, the Rhode Island Department of Health says, and use it to treat cancer, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. [2]

Archambault told WPRI:

“Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real psychological problem, particularly among our veteran community, and it’s our responsibility to provide them with treatment options that can alleviate their suffering.”

According to a Veterans Administration (VA) report cited by the General Assembly’s press office, nearly 30% of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have been diagnosed with PTSD, the symptoms of which include severe anxiety, flashbacks, and depression. The press office also cited a study that showed patients who smoked cannabis “saw an average 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms.”

Read: 21 Lawmakers Push Veterans Affairs to Allow Medical Marijuana

In January, a bill was introduced in the New Hampshire state assembly seeking to add PTSD to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment. Medical marijuana was legalized in the state in 2013 but is still difficult to come by.

Pot would be a safe pain-killing alternative for residents who grapple with prescription painkillers and heroin, advocates point out, in a state where addiction to both substances has reached a tipping point. The New Hampshire medical examiner attributed 385 deaths to opiates last year, nearly double the number of deaths in 2013. [3]

veterans-military-america-war-ptsdAdvocates also argue that medical marijuana could also provide relief to people in desperate mental and emotional agony from anxiety and depression.

Medical marijuana advocates and military veterans are pushing for the same thing in Illinois, which currently has a pilot medical marijuana program. In 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration dismissed an appeal to allow PTSD and a number of other conditions to be treated with medical marijuana. [4]

Sources:

[1] Associated Press

[2] Providence Journal

[3] Aljazeera America

[4] Northern Public Radio


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About Julie Fidler:
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.